The chairman of BEML,the public sector undertaking which,along with Tatra-Vectra,has supplied all-terrain vehicles to the Indian armed forces since 1986,has said that Army Chief General V K Singhs statement describing the vehicles as sub-standard was a highly motivated one by someone who did not understand ground reality.
The BEML chiefs counter-attack comes as the Tatra-Vectra company today is understood to have sought the written permission of the Ministry of Defence to file a defamation case against General V K Singh for prejudicing the quality and price of the vehicles,7,000 of which are being used by the armed forces.
It is in the context of clearing a fresh tranche of Tatra vehicles that the Army Chief alleged he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Bangalore,BEML (formerly Bharat Earth Movers Limited) chairman V R S Natarajan said that the Army Chief had no role to play in the continuing supplies of the vehicles and so there was no question of him holding up the acquisition. If you ask my view,his opinion was a highly motivated one and was aimed at defaming the Tatra brand and probably getting the company blacklisted… He obviously has some grand plan in his mind. I dont know what he was talking about since he only had a consultative role to play at the time of preparation of the budget, Natarajan said.
He said that the March 2010 order for 788 vehicles from Tatra-Vectra had already been executed and that trials for an even larger order were in progress. Allegations of bribes being paid in the Tatra deals and agents working overtime for this are absolutely false since it is I,as BEML Chairman,and my team of former and serving defence personnel,who are the ones who handle all the negotiations and paperwork with the BEML. Only we deal with the defence forces and the MoD on behalf of Tatra,nobody else.
More than one Army Chief,as well as so many junior and senior military officers who have used these vehicles in deserts and hilly terrain have praised the technical capabilities of the vehicles, he said. What the present Army Chief has said shows that he does not understand ground realities and had some motivation to make such remarks.